John Adams explains the rise of Donald Trump. From the third volume of The Defence of the Constitutions, which I am currently working on for an edition with Liberty Fund: This whole story is a demonstration of the oppression of the people under the aristocracy; of the extreme jealousy of that aristocracy of kings, of an oligarchy, and of popular power; of the constant secret wishes of the people to set up a king to defend them against the nobles, and of their readiness to fall in with the views of any rich man who flattered them, and set him up as…
Archives for April 2016
One of the new initiatives of government is to act against the bullying of children. As a general matter, I believe that concern about bullying is a force for good. As a child, I experienced a little bit of bullying (as do virtually all children) but saw others who were treated much worse. From my own experience and observations, I can attest to how harmful such bullying can be for a child.
One might argue that parents should be the ones who address bullying but of course parents cannot do the job entirely. They are often not aware that the bullying is occurring and my guess is that the children who are bullied often had parents who were bullied and therefore would not really know how to address it. Thus, additional protection would be helpful and government schools appear to be well positioned to intervene.
Unfortunately, government does a poor job of most things and bullying is likely to be one of them. The standard litany of public choice problems ranging from poor incentives to do a good job, poor knowledge about how to do that job, and the power of special interests and ideological extremists apply in this area no less than others. And the more jobs that government undertakes, the less likely they are to do each one of them well.
Low test schools and poor learning are just a small part of the problems with government schools. There are, of course, the problems of teachers unions and disciplining bad teachers. And most pertinently, there are the absurdities of policies such as zero tolerance. Thus, no one should be surprised if the schools do a poor job of policing against bullying.
Realpolitik is a term more often invoked within the English-speaking world than explained or understood. The word provides a condensed symbol that expresses different meanings depending upon who employs it. Sometimes it signals a practical approach focused on the concrete particulars that shape international relations or an effort to cut through naivety and utopianism. More often, however, it conjures a very different image of cynically pursuing advantage by deploying power without moral restraint. As “an unwelcome import from the dark heart of Mitteleuropa,” in John Bew’s telling phrase, realpolitik marks a disturbing counterpoint to Anglo-Saxon conceptions of fair play and liberty under law.